By Vince Lujan Posted February 8, 2018
The identity provider (IdP) is one of the most important pieces of an IT network. This core piece of IT infrastructure is what connects users to IT resources and gives IT admins the ability to control their network. Historically, the IdP has been an on-prem solution like Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) or OpenLDAP™. However, many IT organizations are interested in a hosted IdP alternative as more IT resources shift to the cloud.
JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is a next generation hosted IdP. This comprehensive cloud identity and access management (CIAM) platform can offer a number of advantages compared to on-prem identity management solutions. First, however, we should discuss the development of the IdP to reveal why identity management is better in the cloud.
A Brief History of the Identity Provider
The modern concept of the identity provider was first introduced with the release of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) in 1993. Tim Howes, a JumpCloud advisor, was the lead developer. He said they created LDAP to help secure decentralized IT networks.
The advent of LDAP led to a number of innovations in the identity management space. AD and OpenLDAP are two particularly powerful examples. These core identity providers have helped IT admins manage their networks since the turn of the century. AD has been far more dominant in the identity management space due primarily to the popularity of Windows® based systems. Nevertheless, both solutions have LDAP to thank for much of their success.
AD and OpenLDAP remain two of the most popular identity management solutions to this day. The issue for modern IT organizations is that legacy IdPs were designed for on-prem infrastructure and homogeneous system environments. While this wasn’t an issue when the solutions were first introduced, innovations introduced in the mid-2000’s would fundamentally change the architecture of IT networks. These changes have placed a lot of pressure on legacy management tools.
It started in the mid-2000’s as macOS and Linux devices began to break into the enterprise system market. Around the same time, web applications like Salesforce began to replace on-prem applications. Then came cloud productivity platforms like G Suite that could replace Microsoft Office®, cloud infrastructure like AWS that could replace on-prem data centers, and more. These solutions struggled to be managed directly by AD or OpenLDAP.
The inability to manage cloud resources or disparate system environments with legacy tools brought about the creation of an entire generation of Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solutions (e.g. web application single sign-on). These hosted identity management tools could be layered on top of the on-prem IdP with the purpose of extending on-prem identities to unsupported IT resources. The add-on approach can be effective. However, IT admins have come to discover that a growing number of add-on solutions are required as IT resources continue to shift to the cloud and diversify.
Rather than implementing more add-ons, what modern IT organizations really need is a comprehensive identity provider that was built for modern IT networks. This next generation solution would be delivered as a service with hardly any infrastructure on-prem. In other words, what IT organizations really need is a next generation hosted IdP.
Next Generation Hosted IdP: Directory-as-a-Service
JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a next generation hosted identity provider that securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. Through its diverse support of platforms, protocols, and providers, JumpCloud centrally manages user access to virtually any system (including Windows, Mac, and Linux), cloud or legacy applications (Salesforce), wired or WiFi networks and infrastructure (RADIUS), physical or virtual file storage (Samba, Dropbox), and more. In essence, this comprehensive cloud identity management platform is Active Directory and LDAP reimagined for the modern era of IT.
Contact the JumpCloud team to learn more about the next generation hosted IdP. You can also sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account and see a hosted IdP in action today. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost.